34,500 New Yorkers can't buy guns because of 'mental health' issues

New York state's new mental health reporting system that requires doctors to report patients that could be a danger to themselves or others in order to deny them the ability to purchase or own a gun has an astonishing 34,500 people on the list.

Are there really that many dangerous, mentally unstable people in New York?

Most experts don't think so. Even mental health professionals believe the number is too high.

New York Times:

The database, established in the aftermath of the mass shooting in 2012 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and maintained by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, is the result of the Safe Act. It is an expansive package of gun control measures pushed through by the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The law, better known for its ban on assault weapons, compels licensed mental health professionals in New York to report to the authorities any patient “likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others.”

But the number of entries in the database highlights the difficulty of America’s complicated balancing act between public safety and the right to bear arms when it comes to people with mental health issues. “That seems extraordinarily high to me,” said Sam Tsemberis, a former director of New York City’s involuntary hospitalization program for homeless and dangerous people, now the chief executive of Pathways to Housing, which provides housing to the mentally ill. “Assumed dangerousness is a far cry from actual dangerousness.”

Similar laws in other states have raised the ire of gun rights proponents, who worry that people who posed no threat at all would have their rights infringed. Mental health advocates have also argued that the laws unnecessarily stigmatized people with mental illnesses.

Because the names in New York’s database and the circumstances of their cases are private, it is impossible to independently determine whether the people in it are truly dangerous.

The database figures were obtained by The New York Times through a Freedom of Information Law request.

Gun control supporters argue a wide net is appropriate, given the potentially dire consequences.

Even if just one dangerous person had a gun taken away, “that’s a good thing,” said Brian Malte, senior national policy director of the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence. The National Rifle Association of America favors a separate “process of adjudication” to make sure that “these decisions are not being made capriciously and maliciously,” Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman, said.

Caught up in this dragnet are thousands of people who are no more a danger to you or themselves than anyone else. But they had the misfortune of going through New York's huge mental health system. People who are clinically depressed should not be on the list unless the depression is so severe that it's debilitating. Most patients who suffer from ordinary depression are eventually treated successfully so the notion that they would be on this list is absurd.

The state is using the mental health database as a means of denying Americans their constitutional right to bear arms. Everyone agrees crazy people should not own guns. But without a case by case review of who should be on the list, thousands are denied their rights.

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New York state's new mental health reporting system that requires doctors to report patients that could be a danger to themselves or others in order to deny them the ability to purchase or own a gun has an astonishing 34,500 people on the list.

Are there really that many dangerous, mentally unstable people in New York?

Most experts don't think so. Even mental health professionals believe the number is too high.

New York Times:

The database, established in the aftermath of the mass shooting in 2012 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and maintained by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, is the result of the Safe Act. It is an expansive package of gun control measures pushed through by the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The law, better known for its ban on assault weapons, compels licensed mental health professionals in New York to report to the authorities any patient “likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others.”

But the number of entries in the database highlights the difficulty of America’s complicated balancing act between public safety and the right to bear arms when it comes to people with mental health issues. “That seems extraordinarily high to me,” said Sam Tsemberis, a former director of New York City’s involuntary hospitalization program for homeless and dangerous people, now the chief executive of Pathways to Housing, which provides housing to the mentally ill. “Assumed dangerousness is a far cry from actual dangerousness.”

Similar laws in other states have raised the ire of gun rights proponents, who worry that people who posed no threat at all would have their rights infringed. Mental health advocates have also argued that the laws unnecessarily stigmatized people with mental illnesses.

Because the names in New York’s database and the circumstances of their cases are private, it is impossible to independently determine whether the people in it are truly dangerous.

The database figures were obtained by The New York Times through a Freedom of Information Law request.

Gun control supporters argue a wide net is appropriate, given the potentially dire consequences.

Even if just one dangerous person had a gun taken away, “that’s a good thing,” said Brian Malte, senior national policy director of the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence. The National Rifle Association of America favors a separate “process of adjudication” to make sure that “these decisions are not being made capriciously and maliciously,” Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman, said.

Caught up in this dragnet are thousands of people who are no more a danger to you or themselves than anyone else. But they had the misfortune of going through New York's huge mental health system. People who are clinically depressed should not be on the list unless the depression is so severe that it's debilitating. Most patients who suffer from ordinary depression are eventually treated successfully so the notion that they would be on this list is absurd.

The state is using the mental health database as a means of denying Americans their constitutional right to bear arms. Everyone agrees crazy people should not own guns. But without a case by case review of who should be on the list, thousands are denied their rights.

.